x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

NHL: Hopes of full season fade as talks to end lockout stall

The deadline set by the NHL for a new collective bargaining agreement expires today with no end in sight to the Dh11.7bn dispute between league and players that now looks certain to wipe out at least part of the new season.

The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.
The NHL lockout takes effect at the Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.

The prospect of a full National Hockey League season being played look to be over after league officials and players failed to agree plans for new talks to end the labour dispute currently keeping the sport on hold.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman had warned that a new collective bargaining agreement would need to be hammered out by Thursday if the league was to schedule a full campaign of 82 regular-season games for each team, plus the Stanley Cup playoffs.

But players and league representatives failed to meet yesterday, a day after union officials claimed the NHL rejected an offer of new talks.

"They have made it clear to us that they have very little interest in the proposal we made last Tuesday," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN.com on Tuesday night. "They also told us they have no intention of making a new proposal. I'm not sure what we would be meeting about."

The league has pointed to Thursday as the deadline to get a deal done because that would allow a week of training camps before the start of the season on November 2.

Bettman has indicated November 2 would be the last possible start date that could provide for a complete season, now that matches previously scheduled up to November 1 have been scrapped.

Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement have been stalled for months largely over how to divide $3.2 billion (Dh11.8bn) in hockey-related revenues, and owners locked out players on September 15.

Players had received 57 per cent under the old deal.

Owners had asked for at least 53 per cent under a new agreement, but last week had offered a deal including a 50-50 split.

The league was unhappy with the players' response, with Bettman saying none of the players counterproposals "even began to approach 50-50".

Players union chief Don Fehr countered that NHL proposal still represented huge reductions in player salaries.

The NHL lost its entire 2004-05 season to a similar dispute.

Meanwhile the New York Islanders have agreed to move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015, once their lease on the Nassau Coliseum expires.

"It was our goal from day one to keep the Islanders in the local New York area," owner Charles Wang said. "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Barclays Center, a first class arena."

Wang said the New York Islanders' name and logo will remain the same when they make the move to the new building, which will also be the home of NBA side the New York Nets.

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